DOS released the November Visa Bulletin. For the Application Final Action Dates, there is little movement in EB-2 and EB-3 China, with EB-3 remaining nine months ahead (15 April 2013 versus 15 July 2012) of EB-2. Same with EB-2 and EB-3 India, with EB-2 India moving up to 01 November 2007 and EB-3 only to 08 March 2005. EB-3 Philippines is at 01 April 2011. EB-1 remains current across chargeability areas and EB-3, “all other” is at 01 July 2016. USCIS has said they will accept the Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart, which allows for 01 March 2013 and 01 May 2014 priority date filings for EB-2 and EB-3 China, respectively; EB-2 India priority date holders with a 22 April 2009 or earlier date could file, as could EB-3 priority date holders with a 01 July 2005 date or earlier. Under the Dates for Filing chart the priority date for EB-3 Philippines moves up to 01 September 2013.
On September 29, 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) introduced a new I-94 website with several updates, including the web address: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home. The site continues to allow travelers to check the details of their electronic I-94, including most recent entry and travel history. One new feature includes allowing travelers to apply and pay the $6 fee up to seven (7) days prior to their entry (please note this is for Land Border Travelers Only). During the process, travelers will receive a provisional I-94 after making the payment and providing biographical information, passport and visa details, and SEVIS information, if applicable. The traveler/applicant must then appear within seven (7) days at the port of entry to submit biometrics and be interviewed by the CBP officer, if necessary. Payment can be made by credit or debit card or PayPal. If the traveler/applicant is unable to appear at the port of entry within the seven-day period, then the provisional I-94 will be voided and a new application will be submitted (please note the fee will not be reimbursed for missed appointments).
The Supreme Court has denied the Obama administration’s request to rehear arguments in the case challenging its expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and creation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). However, this decision is only with regard to the temporary injunction of these programs – the larger issue of whether the President’s executive orders are valid will still have to be heard. Because the larger issue is premised on the President’s actions, the future of DACA and DAPA are largely contingent on the outcome of the upcoming presidential election and whether or not the programs are kept in place at all. Hillary Clinton has vowed to defend Obama’s immigration programs and suggested she would go even further by calling on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. Donald Trump, by contrast, has promised to scrap this program, build a wall along the southern border and significantly increase deportations if elected president.
A lawful permanent resident who has lost his or her Green Card or Reentry Permit can now apply for a travel document by filing USCIS’ newest Form I-131A. A resident who lost his or her Green Card is eligible if he or she has returned from an overseas travel that lasted less than a year. A resident who lost his or her Reentry Permit is eligible if he or she has returned from an overseas travel that lasted less than two years.
As of August 10, 2016, USCIS will only accept the revised version of its Form N-400. USCIS will process this new Form electronically; and thus, applicants now do not need to send passport-style photographs with their initial application. Instead, photographs will be taken during their biometrics appointment. Additionally, if an applicant is 75 or older, he or she must now schedule a biometrics appointment for collections of his or her photographs, fingerprints, and signature.
On October 3, 2016, the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit blocked Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s policy of prohibiting state agencies from providing social services to Syrian refugees. The majority opinion determined that Gov. Pence’s order violated the Refugee Act of 1980, which allocates states with funds to assist refugees provided that the funds are not distributed on the basis of nationality. The 7th Circuit stated that Indiana has the option to withdraw from the refugee assistance program altogether rather than simply discriminating against Syrian refugees, but the court also pointed out that, in that case, the federal government would have the option to establish an alternative program through which to distribute aid to refugees in Indiana. This is a direct rebuke to a Governor attempting to use federally designated funds to limit certain types of immigrants to their state.
As FY 2017 has begun and holiday season is approaching, we understand that many foreign nationals are looking to get their first visa stamp or secure a new stamp for re-entry to the U.S. Either way, it’s important to make sure you have scheduled your appointment with the U.S. consulate abroad and have assembled the requisite materials for the appointment. For those traveling to India for visa stamping, it is especially important to plan ahead and schedule the consulate appointment given the long waiting times seen recently for US Consulates in India. While the overarching rule is to always check the consular website for site-specific requirements, it is generally a good idea to bring to your interview your appointment notice, your DS-160 confirmation page, evidence of your eligibility for the benefit (I-797A, educational credentials, etc.), evidence of your maintenance of status (letter from employer, paystubs), a passport style photo, and your current unexpired passport. If you have specific questions or concerns about the process and the unique nuances of your particular case, we do recommend speaking with legal counsel to avoid any unusual delays or questions.
When we have presented on immigration topics or spoken with clients over the last few months, there is a collective angst within the foreign national population regarding to possible election of Donald Trump; essentially that something bad may happen to the status of our clients. We want to reassure you all that although he has promised many policies and ideas that are wholly anti-immigrant in nature, we do not believe he has the authority to do many of those things without Congressional approval. As people have witnessed over the last decade, the pace of immigration reform is exceedingly slow and any reforms he hopes to implement will take time and require the consent of both the House and Senate. And as we witnessed in the recent DACA/DAPA Supreme Court case, the State of Texas sued the current Administration in a Texas Federal Court knowing the likelihood of a favorable outcome was highly likely. One can assume that if Donald Trump attempts to hijack immigration policy without Congressional approval that litigation will be commenced in a California courtroom and progress to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals if necessary – the point being is Donald Trump can have the same constraints applied to him as were applied to President Obama’s meaningful attempt to push for immigration reform. And that ultimately any wholly negative outcome could be thwarted.
** This newsletter/memo is provided for informational and discussion purposes only. It does not act as a substitute for direct legal contact on an individual basis **